Searching for a Real Estate Agent
One strongly suggested item in buying a new home is finding a real estate agent that is an expert in your unique type of home purchase. Often home buyers assume that the agent that lists a home is the agent they should deal with in their home purchase. The agent listing a home is working for the seller, not the buyer, of the property.
There are two sides to every real estate transaction, the listing side and the selling side. As a home buyer you want a real estate agent that is working for you to negotiate the best deal on your behalf. The listing agent works for the home seller, on your side is the selling agent. While there are some agents that deal with both sides of the equation, it is typical that real estate agents focus their efforts on one side or the other. Taking the time and consideration to find a real estate agent that you can trust will make all the difference. Afterall, this is likely the biggest purchase you will ever make, it makes sense to ensure that your best interests are being looked out for.
While a listing agent works for the home seller you are able to make an offer directly to this agent. If you do the listing agent will disclose the working relationship that exists, who they will represent, along with a document you sign called an “agency disclosure” spelling out said relationship. An ethical agent representing both sides transitions into a transaction facilitator, and are no longer an actual advocate of either party, becoming mostly an information provided and conduit for communications. Offers, counter-offers and other negotiations are made through the agent.
Most listing agents advertise, not only because they want home owners to know they are working for them, but also to attract additional home sellers. The misunderstanding about real estate advertising is that a home ad is intended to find buyers. In fact, most real estate listings are intended to find sellers, but more importantly to find selling agents to work with. While it is always great to find individuals interested in purchasing the properties listing agents advertise, it is even more productive to find agents with clients that want to buy properties advertised.
Selecting a realtor that you can trust and that understands your needs means that you have someone to work for you in your real estate search and negotiations. For any properties you find it is suggested that you retrieve the MLS number or the address of the property and provide it to your realtor. All agents have access to all the properties in the MLS (multiple listing service), that provides the greatest level of details about available properties. Finding a realtor that will find and follow properties for you is just one stage in the process. You want a realtor that will explain the process of finding, negotiating and buying a home as it unfolds. This way you feel educated about the process and are able to make better decisions when faced with multiple options.
Considering the amount of money being negotiated a real estate agent should be shopped. Like a good attorney, financial advisor, doctor, or any other professional, a real estate agents should be shopped. A good real estate agent will work with a reputable brand and have your best interests in mind. They will be specialized in the areas that are important to you, the will be available when it’s convenient for you, and they will have deep understanding of the areas you want to live in.
Doing an Internet search you will find real estate agents for days, so how do you sort through them? First, be aware of the approach. While agents have to advertise themselves in order to gain clients, if all they do is talk about how they are number one, chances are they are more interested in themselves than you. Look for an agent that is focused on your needs. Second, ask a lot of questions. Ask the agent their background, how many homes they’ve sold, who they consider an ideal client, and who their competitors are. A good agent will answer honestly, and will give more than a ‘politicians answer’ to your questions. Contact the people they say are their competitors and ask their opinion of the original agent as a point of reference, then interview the agent.
Again, you want a realtor that will be concerned about you and take care of your interests. They should have and demonstrate expert knowledge of homes, the area, and your needs. They should be able to conduct a search for homes with you there, and have an opinion about the ones that may be better suited for you. While you asking them a lot of questions is important, it is equally important that they ask you questions. They should ask you questions regarding your financial and debt information and be able to provide you with available homes based on your ability to afford them, as well as refer you to a loan officer. You want someone that is up front and bold, while being understanding of your needs. The interview will likely happen in person as during the search process you should have spoken over the phone. Be sure to pay special attention to their office and how busy and organized they appear to be. If they are constantly interrupted or have a pile of paperwork, they may not be organized well enough to pay attention to your needs or place an offer on a property before it is off the market.